HUMBOLDT PARK — A Humboldt Park nun cooked her way to victory Monday night on a special volunteer edition of the Food Network's cooking competition "Chopped."
Sister Alicia Torres, 30, plans to donate her $10,000 prize to Our Lady of the Angels Mission to help feed the hungry and continue to provide nutritious meals to those in need in Humboldt Park.
"In West Humboldt Park we are considered a food desert, so to get access to fresh healthy food is very difficult for people who live here," Torres said.
In a special Thanksgiving edition of the cooking show aired Monday night, Torres faced off against three other volunteer cooks who were tasked with using ingredients from a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
Torres has never been to cooking school; she worked at McDonald's while in high school and later as a barista at Starbucks while in college, she said.
"I was pretty well known for my cheesecakes in college," she said. "I don't make many cheesecakes these days."
Torres hopes to use the spotlight to highlight issues of hunger in the country.
Our Lady of the Angels, 3808 W. Iowa St., hosts a regular food pantry every Tuesday morning, a mobile food pantry on the first Saturday of the month and community meals twice a month.
"I think that food has such a tremendous potential to bring people together," Torres said. "I don't think we could ever overestimate the power to take time to prepare a meal and sit down with people that we love and care about."
Since appearing on "Chopped," Torres has gained a bit of confidence in her skills in the kitchen: "I've always been creative, but I'm much more creative and daring now with food combinations," she said. "It's been coming out really well. The neighbors have been enjoying it."
The "Chopped" episode is set to air again Nov. 17 at 9 p.m., Nov. 18 at midnight, Nov. 21 at 10 p.m. and Nov. 22 at 1 a.m. on Food Network.
"This is such an opportunity to share my own joy of this life that I live and also to raise awareness of how, in our own country, there are so many hungry people," Torres said.
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